Bike Across Italy with Ciclismo Classico

This is a re-post of a trip review written for Bike Friday and Ciclismo Classico.

Ciao tutti! Ready for a truly stellar, fully escorted bicycle tour of Italia? One that comes standard with stupendously good food, spectacular walled cities, a panoramic pedal through the Appenines with several challenging climbs into a luxury 4-star hotel bed? Put another way, if you're over pulling rocks from under your Thermorest, scrubbing congealed oatmeal from your MSR stove, and standing on traffic islands with a fragmented map flapping in your face, welcome to touring the Ciclismo Classico way.

I was privileged to review one of the company's most popular tours: Bike Across Italy.

Spanning 'the mid-calf to the mid-shin' of the boot of Italy over ten days, this moderately challenging tour takes in the regions of La Marche, Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio, starting in Fano on Adriatic sea and ending in Porto Ecole on the Mediterranean. The average mileage is about 50 gradually hilly miles per day.

DAY-BY-DAY TRIP REPORT: Bike Across Italy with Ciclismo Classico

Imagine pedaling your bicycle through the lush, rolling countryside of Italia, nosing your front wheel along cobbled streets of tiny villages bursting with with cheese, wine and designer shoe stores, sitting down to a gourmet multi-course wine dinner at the end of each day, laying your weary helmet in grand, four star historic hotels and charming old world albergos ...

Ciclismo Classico (CC, pronounced 'Cheek-LEEZ-mo') is a Boston-based company specializing in this heightened level of cycle touring. There are a number of operators in this niche but as I found, CC strikes a good balance between sufficiently challenging miles and guilt-free pampered luxury at day's end.

Lauren Hefferon, Founder of Ciclismo Classico
Entering Orvieto
In 2007, an Outside Magazine article "Best Trips. Ever." named CC's 'Giro del Gelato' tour as their Trip of the Year - a very prestigious accolade.

If you travel with CC you'll discover there's more to Italy than Rome, Florence and the Vatican. I chose the May 10-20 departure of Bike Across Italy (BAI) because I was told May is warm but not yet sweltering. Perhaps due to global warming the temperature was hotter than usual; it had been a low-snow season across Europe, said our guides, Dana and Andrea.

The CC website is comprehensive, with a handy feature that lets you select tours by season, region, and the tantalizing 'Tours No One Else Has'. This is a day by day account of the tour as seen by a cyclist of moderate fitness - what CC might rate as 'Athletic Beginner' to 'Intermediate'. The tour is rated intermediate, averaging around 30-50 miles per day. Andiamo!

Pedaling through vineyards on the way from one medieval hill town to another - Todi to Orvieto, Day 8
Best things about this trip:
  • The Gubbio 2-night immersion in the madness of La Festa dei Ceri (Candle Race)
  • The stellar hotels and meals right in the thick of history
  • A wine tasting like I've never experienced before ... where have I been all my life?
  • The perfect al fresco meal beside Lake Bolsena
  • The bizarro 'dead city' of Civita - if that place doesn't capture your imagination, nothing will
  • Excellent guides who are walkin', wheelin' Wiki's of all things Italia
  • Those map holders on the Bianchi standard issue bikes are ingenious! I want one!
Highlights of all CC tours:
  • Luxury tours offering three and four star accommodations - you choose what level of tour.
  • Beginner to Advanced cycling level
  • Full minivan support to transport your gear - and you - to a different hotel each night (in the case of this trip - other trips linger for 2 nights at some locations). There's no shame on a CC tour if you want to smell more roses and less burning rubber.
  • Breakfasts and dinners included, lunches on your own, as many cyclists prefer to snack and keep riding.
  • Dinners are pre-designed, multi-course gourmet tasting menus typical to the region; no humdrum pizza-and-spaghetti 'tourist menus'
  • Optional wine kitty at under 150 Euro for the trip; regional wines chosen to complement the meals and explained by our guides
  • Shipping your bike cases to the finish included, if you elected to bring your own bike
  • Experienced local guides who speak excellent English
  • Use of quality Bianchi bicycles with carbon forks and small trunk bag included, at your option
  • Bonus extras like Italian mini lessons, route extensions fully escorted route extensions (extra loop-e) with commentary, rest day in fantastic medieval town of Gubbio to get all caught up in the famous annual local festival, the Candle Race
The Candle Race in Gubbio - racing a Saint on a giant stick around the town and up the hill!

The 'dead' city' of Civita in Umbria - between 18 and 16 people live there, after some serious erosion set it adrift ...


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